Walking the Path Less Taken: Metallic Epoxy VS Conventional Materials | Blog Post #3
Hard as rock and pretty as a picture, a metallic epoxy coating combines beauty and function for the most well-used parts of any home or office. Fortunately for fans of this wonder material, the coating isn’t exclusive to floors — they can be applied to many work surfaces such as countertops and various interior surfaces. But just how well does epoxy stand up to other conventional interior design materials?
Here, we explore the characteristics of modern interior design materials. Almost every work surface in the modern building is made of wood, stone, or a composite material. A parquet floor in the living room, a quartz counter in the kitchen, or a vinyl floor in a barbershop. While these materials have long been used for their aesthetic appeal or widespread availability, they do have some very major shortcomings.
Vinyl (Polyvinyl Chloride or PVC)
Vinyl is a rubber-like material that has many qualities as a flooring material. It’s inexpensive and easy to install, is soft underfoot, and is durable. However, it has many cons that outweigh its utility for most homeowners. Vinyl is manufactured from chemicals that cause it to emit volatile organic chemicals (VOCs), which can cause serious health problems. Homeowners looking for long-term flooring solutions should note that besides yellowing over time, damaged vinyl cannot be resurfaced and has to be entirely replaced. Vinyl is also sensitive to corrosive chemicals, and cannot be cleaned with stronger cleaning agents. While it is stain-resistant, any contact with rubber — such shoe soles or non-slip surfaces — results in permanent marks on the vinyl.
Parquet (Wood, Varnish)
Parquet has innumerable varieties, but generally entails laying sections of wood to form elegant patterns. The surface is varnished to protect it from moisture or physical damage. As flooring, its appeal is largely aesthetic, and it requires careful maintenance to be long-lasting. Its sole protection is a layer of varnish, which is prone to cracks and chips from sharp or heavy objects. Such damage exposes the underlying wood to moisture from spills or the atmosphere, resulting in warping of the tile. Repair costs vary, depending on the extent of the damage, but is generally rather expensive since it entails removing the old sections, acquiring and installing the new sections in the correct shades, and re-varnishing.
Laminate (Melamine Resin and Fibreboard Material)
Laminate is a cheaper, popular alternative to wooden parquet flooring. It consists of a visually appealing layer — wood chips or printed graphics — compressed beneath a melamine protective layer, giving the appearance of hardwood or stone tile. While relatively unremarkable, it is more water-resistant than parquet, better looking than vinyl, and ages well without fading. However, it is still prone to warping when exposed to standing water, and vulnerable to dents or scratches from falling objects. Notably, homeowners with a more refined palate generally feel it falls short of hardwood or ceramic tiles in terms of visual appeal.
Stone and ceramic tiles are amazingly versatile; they come in myriad shapes of varying ceramic types. Non-porous tiles are generally stain-resistant. However, tiles are notorious for two things — chips and cracks. They are extremely vulnerable to physical damage from falling objects, or scratches from sharp items. Damaged tiles are a chore to repair, since they are firmly mounted in cement. Furthermore, they are always accompanied by grout, a mixture of concrete, sand, and water used to seal gaps between sections of stone or tile. Grout is highly porous and provides an ideal environment for mould or bacteria, resulting in black scum forming in humid locations like bathrooms or kitchen counters.
Quartz is a pore-less, man-made stone used for many parts of interior design, from countertops to floor tiles. While stain-resistant, it is certainly not stain-proof. Quartz is commonly treated with a petroleum-based resin to obtain its colour. This resin can react with chemicals from spillage — think sauces or wine — and result in permanent discolouration. Quartz, like other stones, is also prone to chips and scratches from sharp objects or physical impact. Most notably, wet quartz is highly slippery and may cause accidents.
Marble is one of the most expensive and premium materials used for building interiors. While it is highly treasured for its aesthetic appeal, it is undoubtedly the least practical material on this list. Marble is a much softer stone than granite or quartz, meaning it gets chipped or scratched easily. It is also highly porous, so it stains readily, and traps dirt and bacteria. Clean it often, you say. Unfortunately, marble is also sensitive to corrosive chemicals, which rules out many effective cleansers like bleach. While granite is not as esteemed as marble, it is marginally tougher.
Metallic Epoxy (Metallic Pigments in Epoxy Resin)
Epoxy is a wonder material that has recently entered the mainstream for interior design. It is non-porous and chemically inert, making it entirely stain-proof and suitable for efficient cleaning with strong cleaning agents. Its resistance to impact and scratches, heat tolerance up to 200°C, make it very robust. The metallic pigments within serve a purely aesthetic function. Depending on the composition of the pigments and their arrangement, virtually any design can be achieved by a skilled artist and an imaginative homeowner. When properly installed and cared for, a metallic epoxy coating provides greater protection than any other material. It is thus no great mystery why the material, as it becomes more readily available, has soared in popularity with homeowners.
We now examine how each material performs in the flooring, countertop, and interior surface categories.
Epoxy’s stain-proofing is a no-contest win for flooring, where spills often land. Porous surfaces like marble and ceramic tiles stain easily, while other non-porous surfaces like quartz and vinyl are only stain-resistant
Physical Resistance: Epoxy and vinyl come out on top for their ability to absorb physical impacts and resist scratches — a critical property for flooring to survive foot traffic, furniture movement, and accidents
Epoxy comes out ahead of other non-porous surfaces (like vinyl and parquet) for its resistance to strong cleaning agents, while sharing their low viability for mould and bacteria. Especially crucial for bathroom and kitchen floors.
Epoxy doesn’t discolour or denature over time in an indoor setting, unlike other materials like quartz, which gradually fade in colour.
Stains: Epoxy wins again — a good thing since counters take everything from pen ink to hot sauce
Physical Resistance: Epoxy. While countertops generally do not receive the abuse that floors do, they are still subjected to sharp objects like knives or tools.
Hygiene: Epoxy. Especially crucial for wet work like meat prep in kitchens.
Durability: Epoxy’s dominance here is debatable. While it doesn’t degrade over time, its heat resistance comes second to quartz or ceramic tiles — especially relevant in kitchens where hot pans or pots might make contact
Interior Surfaces (Tables, Vanities, Work Desks)
Stains: Epoxy. Most relevant with dining tables.
Physical Resistance: Epoxy. Frankly though, short of making a table or armoire entirely out of a new material, your only options for protecting discrete pieces of furniture are either some form of varnish, or an epoxy coating.
Hygiene: Epoxy keeps work surfaces clean and enables convenient clean ups, whether wine, perfume, or motor oil.
Durability: Epoxy. Without any high heat, epoxy is indisputably the best option.